Camels are herbivores and eat any kind of vegetation they can find including grasses, leaves and plants.
Camels have a three-chambered rather than a four-chambered digestive tract like other ruminant animals.
In ruminants the stomach is categorised into different chambers which are:
1. The Rumen – this is the largest part and holds large amounts of partially digested food. This is where the ‘cud’ comes from. Good bacteria in the Rumen helps soften and digest the food and provides protein for the animal.
The major role of the rumen in camels is to break down food particles with the help of mechanical digestion and fermentation by using symbiotic microbes. It also plays role in the removal of waste particles.
2. The Reticulum – this part of the stomach is called the ‘hardware’ stomach. The plant material that has been eaten is also softened further in this stomach section and is formed into small wads of cud. Each cud returns to the animals mouth and is chewed 40 – 60 times and then swallowed properly.
3. The Omasum – this part of the stomach is a ‘filter’. It filters through all the food the animal eats. The cud is also pressed and broken down further.
4. The Abomasum – this part of the stomach is like a humans stomach and is connected to the intestines. Here, the food is finally digested by the stomach acid and essential nutrients that the animal needs are passed through the bloodstream.
One part which is not present in the camel is known as the omasum.
In camels, only 3 ruminant stomach chambers are known to exist, namely rumen, reticulum, and abomasum.
How long can a camel go without water?
Dromedary Camels can endure long periods without drinking – up to 17 days. When they do drink, they can take up to 136 litres (30 gallons) at a time. By producing dry faeces and little urine, they can conserve water. Their body temperature can rise 6 – 8 degree Celsius before sweating.
Do camels store water in their humps?
No, this is a misconception. Camels have evolved to last a long time without drinking water however their humps are fat stores and allow the camel to survive for many weeks without eating food.